Friday, 21 October 2016

Blue Reflections

A dull day presented a challenge for creating an interesting image.  Blue boats on a murky canal provided an interesting option.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

After Hours

The market late at night when all the stalls are closed and packed away for another day.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Pretty Hands

The henna stall was very popular at Diwali on the weekend.  A little trivia around the henna tattoo, when being decorated for a wedding the bride is keen to have the darkest stains possible as this means they will have a happy marriage and a better mother-in-law.   

Monday, 17 October 2016

Diwali in Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square was a bursting with colour and festivities yesterday as the first place in the world to begin the the celebrations for Diwali 2016.  The Hindu festival of light is celebrated every autumn, celebrating light over dark, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.  Celebrations, that often last for five days, include lights shining everywhere, buildings, temples, doorways, windows.  Don new or best outfits and offer prayers to the goddess of fertility and prosperity.

Dancing, music and food were in abundance in Trafalgar Square.  Women could be helped into colourful saris and have their hands decorated with henna.  Even the sudden downpour of rain in the middle of the afternoon did not dampen the spirits of the crowd.

Happy Diwali!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Ted is misled

… and as a result things go a little bit pear shaped … ah autumn the season when nature showers us with her bounties to enjoy now and to prepare for the long winter months that quickly follow the season of the turning leaves. It’s hard to know where to start really as the array of produce that’s at its best now is almost endless … vegetables like pumpkins and squash, kohlrabi, beetroot, beans, the cabbage family, corn, mushrooms, new seasons potatoes, and of course there’s no show without punch as they say – yes folks it’s apple season!!!

The UK is justifiably proud of its apple growing heritage and has loads of different varieties that they call their own. Interestingly though quite a number of the modern commercially viable varieties of apples grown here are localised versions of new hybrids that were developed in New Zealand. This isn’t really surprising as the British took apples to New Zealand as part of their colonisation blueprint and naturally the clement Pacific maritime climate there allowed them to seriously out perform their north of the equator old world ancestral DNA.

But I digress … the Doll came home the other day and said “I’ve just seen a Papple”. After first confirming that this wasn’t a collective noun for a group of people in the same place at the same time all using Apple computers, I ventured on. A few more leading questions established that she was indeed talking about a fruit that’s in season now … Papple … umm never heard of it - so I went out, in disguise naturally, and bought some. Simple I thought, it’s got to be a cross between a Pear and an Apple right – that’s exactly what it looks like as well. Ah no Ted … as it so happens its name is rather misleading. Created in NZ in 2012 (clearly they like creating things in NZ … I expect that will all change when they finally get television there soon though) it is in fact a cross between Asian (nashi) and European (parentage unspecified) pears.

This would explain how they can vary in shape from the familiar pear shape to the rounder apple like shape of the nashi pear. And so to the Ted taste test ... Well ... it has the texture of a nashi pear only softer, and the juiciness of an ordinary pear, and a taste that hovers between the two in a weird way, without the best bits of either IMHO. The skin, well don’t eat it as it’s not nice and the astringency all seems to have collected there. The skin also has a funny look and feel that I imagine must create an identity crisis in adolescent Papples who would no doubt worry that they could be a pink and yellow thin skinned English avocado in disguise … 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Station

Fenchurch St Station in the city of London was built in 1841 and since 1972 is Grade II heritage listed.  One of the smaller stations trains services from here travel to South Essex all the way to the sea.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Quiet time in the city

Monday to Friday thousands pour into the city to work, during the weekend you can almost hear a pin drop it is so quiet.  A good time to see what has changed since my last wander around.  Look what I found - a rock tree nestled in amongst the surrounding towers.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Ted gets sweet

... I don’t want to sound corny but it’s the time of year when I get “sweeter” than usual (well according to the results of the tests my Doctor does anyway) … I listen lots, you might even say that “I’m all ears” and frankly it’s amaizeing … alright Ted we know you’ve bean away for a couple of weeks but we’ve seen the photo already so stop “pun”ishing us and get on with it …

Ok … sigh … I’m going to tell you today about one of my favourites vegetables that’s really like sort of healthy candy for all ages – sweet corn. First off maize and corn are not different – sweet corn is a member of the maize family, which is also confusingly known as corn in some parts of the world. Like many plants it was a part of the rich flora on the earth many centuries before humankind came along and domesticated plants and thus began the unintended avalanche of species annihilation. It was in Mexico pre 2000 BC that we think domestication began and by 2500 BC it had been traded throughout the Americas. It’s often assumed that corn was domesticated by the native north American Indians as they introduced it to the first settlers and it went from there to Europe.

Whereas it was in fact their much older and much shorter Aztec and Mayan cousins who did all the hard work. The early version of wild corn grew small, 25 millimetres (1 in) long corn cobs, and only one per plant. Many centuries of artificial selection followed to get us to where we are today.

Fast forward and we’ve continued that “selection” process to direct modern varieties of sweet corn at people consumption, whereas the more traditional maize varieties are destined for animal fodder. Modern sweet corn is actually rather high in a range of sugars (hence its appeal across the board I reckon) whereas animals tend to eat what they’re given, and they may just be eating the healthier version. There are loads of interesting facts to tell you about corn … too many even … so here are a couple. The corn fungus called huitlacoche (pronounced weet-la-KOH-chay) is revered in Mexico in the same way as truffles are in Europe and tastes pretty similar in my opinion anyway. Corn is cholesterol free (makes up for the sugar overload maybe), and of course the gluten free and Celiac afflicted can enjoy it as it is sans gluten.

The one that tickles me the most is that corn plants now grow between 7 – 10-foot-high (2-3 metres) … imagine the look on the face of the little 4’5” (1.3m) talented Mayan gardener coming into his plot to see the results of his natural selection today ... tiriffid!!! … 

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Participatory Art

Peering over the balcony into the turbine hall at the Tate, at the Flying Fish art installation, you find yourself appearing to go down an escalator that doesn't exist.  Now try and make sense of what I tried to describe.  Its all an illusion!

Another bit of magic is that most of my sidebars have reappeared! (see lastThursday's post).

Friday, 7 October 2016

Those Stones

An American friend was in town and planning a trip to Salisbury to take in the stones and the Cathedral.   A perfect opportunity for me leave the hustle and bustle (not to mention the pollution) of London and take in one of the ancient wonders of the world.

The prehistoric monument that is Stonehenge has drawn people for centuries.  How did they get those stones there from such great distances.   It is believed some of the stones came from Wales.  Imagine trying to transport a large rock along that route in the 21st century with all the technology we have now.  Beggars belief trying to work out how they did it before they had invented the wheel.

We do know that the stones are perfectly aligned for sunrise on summer solstice and sunset for winter solstice.  A pretty ambitious clock if you ask me.  There are those who believe it was a temple.  If this was the case then why pick such a bleak spot?  Surely they would want somewhere pleasant to pay homage to their gods rather than a place you need to wear bearskins in the middle of summer.

I did come away thinking those engineers of yesteryear could teach us a lot now.  Can you name a single building of the modern world that could potentially still be standing in 5,000 years?

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